Olive Oil Consumption Hits Record High in Australia

The International Olive Council predicts that Australians will consume 51,000 tons of olive oil in the 2020/21 fiscal campaign ahead of what could be a record harvest for producers.
By Daniel Dawson
Apr. 20, 2021 14:49 UTC

Olive oil con­sump­tion is esti­mated to reach a record-high 51,000 tons in Australia in 2020/21, just one year after the pre­vi­ous con­sump­tion record of 50,500 tons.

Once con­sumers have started using olive oil and got­ten used to it and dis­cov­ered the fan­tas­tic fla­vor, I think they’ll keep using it.- Michael Southan, CEO, Australian Olive Association

The commonwealth’s appetite for olive oil has con­tin­ued to grow despite Australia enter­ing its first reces­sion in 30 years in September and the neg­a­tive impacts of the Covid-19 pan­demic.

When Covid-19 came here, which caused the eco­nomic down­turn, the peo­ple who would nor­mally eat at restau­rants could­n’t do that any­more,” Michael Southan, the CEO of the Australian Olive Association, told Olive Oil Times. This forced those peo­ple to have to go back and cook for them­selves.”

See Also:Olive Oil Consumption in Spain Increased During State of Emergency

Many con­sumers opted to use the money that would oth­er­wise be spent eat­ing out at restau­rants on buy­ing higher-qual­ity ingre­di­ents at super­mar­kets, Southan said.

They had no hes­i­ta­tion about buy­ing the high­est qual­ity prod­ucts they could find as well as buy­ing locally,” he said. This is part of why we have seen that trend of con­sump­tion increase.”

Even before the Covid-19 pan­demic arrived in Australia in February 2020, demand for olive oil had steadily grown in each of the pre­vi­ous five years.

According to Statista, a mar­ket research firm, annual per capita olive oil con­sump­tion has nearly dou­bled since 2014, ris­ing from 1.39 kilo­grams to 2.07 kilo­grams in 2019.

There’s always been a strong inter­est in the Mediterranean diet, but that seems to have strength­ened even more so in recent times,” Southan said. People want to make sure they are as healthy as can be.”

Even as Australia con­tin­ues to reopen and life begins to return to a new nor­mal, Southan thinks olive oil con­sump­tion will con­tinue to grow. He pre­dicts that renewed demand will come from reopen­ing the hos­pi­tal­ity sec­tor, and house­hold con­sump­tion will remain steady.

See Also:Olive Council Projects Slight Decrease in Olive Oil Consumption

I think demand will con­tinue to grow,” he said. Once con­sumers have started using olive oil and got­ten used to it and dis­cov­ered the fan­tas­tic fla­vor, I think they’ll keep using it.”

Whether they keep using it to the same quan­tity, I don’t know,” he added. I think what we’ll see is peo­ple will con­tinue to cook more at home.”

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that even before the pan­demic, retail food sales had been grow­ing steadily, increas­ing by 43 per­cent from 2010 to 2020. The onset of the pan­demic accel­er­ated this home cook­ing trend.

While roughly two-thirds of Australia’s olive oil con­sump­tion is fed by imports, the IOC pre­dicts that for­eign olive oil ship­ments to the coun­try will fall in 2020/21 after hit­ting a record-high in the pre­vi­ous crop year.

The rea­son why we prob­a­bly won’t see it increase much in the com­ing year is that we’re expect­ing, poten­tially, our largest crop ever, espe­cially in terms of extra vir­gin olive oil,” Southan said.

The first pro­duc­ers just started the 2021 har­vest ear­lier this month and Southan said he would be able to make his first pro­duc­tion esti­mates in the com­ing months.

The IOC pre­dicts a 20,000-ton har­vest for Australia in the cur­rent crop year, up from the 17,000 tons pro­duced in 2019/20.

Anecdotally, 2020 has been a fan­tas­tic turn­around for the whole coun­try in terms of higher rain­fall and bet­ter weather con­di­tions,” Southan said. As a result, the trees are now going to yield the fruit of those con­di­tions. We’re look­ing at good pro­duc­tion.”


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